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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Rui Hachimura’s return to the Wizards has no definite timeline, but will be ‘sooner rather than later’

Washington Wizards and former Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura hasn't played yet this season.   (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)
Washington Wizards and former Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura hasn't played yet this season.  (Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)
By Ava Wallace Washington Post

Three weeks after he arrived in Washington following an excused absence from training camp for personal reasons and more than two weeks into the NBA season, Rui Hachimura has yet to appear publicly with the Washington Wizards.

The franchise’s No. 9 overall pick in 2019 has not been seen at a game or practice as he continues to work out individually with Wizards coaches.

But coach Wes Unseld Jr. offered a vague update on the forward’s status Thursday, saying without giving a definitive timeline that Hachimura will be back with the team sooner rather than later.

Unseld was asked to clarify an answer rookie Corey Kispert gave earlier in the day about how much Kispert has been able to interact with Hachimura since the latter returned to D.C. The pair played together at Gonzaga before Washington drafted them two years apart.

“I’m just trying to be there for whatever he needs,” Kispert said. “I don’t want to force any issues or try to get in and pry too much when I shouldn’t be. I kind of just want to be there for him, and if he wants to hang out and he wants to talk, that’s great. And if not, I’m sure he has a lot of resources in his corner that are really helping him. I’ve seen him a few times here in the practice facility, just kind of checking in, and he’s been in good spirits. So I’m happy for him, making the strides he needs to make, and I think he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

Unseld then said Kispert’s assessment wasn’t far off. Although he has not practiced with the team, Hachimura has taken a look at the Wizards’ video playbook, according to Unseld.

On Wednesday night, the coach said the first big hurdle Hachimura will face when he does rejoin the team is learning the new terminology Unseld has implemented.

“I don’t have a timetable, but I would agree with (‘sooner rather than later’),” Unseld said Thursday. “He’s been around more, he’s working out, so it’s good to have him in the building and be present.”

Another hurdle Hachimura will have to face when he finally suits up again for the Wizards is learning to play with an almost entirely new group.

Asked at shoot-around Monday in Atlanta why the team does not begin to integrate Hachimura by having him around team practices, Unseld said it was a matter of timing. He stressed that teammates see Hachimura at the team’s facility in southeast Washington even if he’s not watching practice from the sideline.

“Well, I think right now it’s still just where he is. It’s not an issue of us not wanting him around or being around, it’s when the time is right. I think it’s continuing to do the conditioning, the workout, the lifts – he’s been doing those at the facility, which is great,” Unseld said. “So we’re getting an opportunity to see him, but just as far as getting him ingratiated in the team dynamic, it’s going to take time.

“It’s just another thing where we’re going to take our time with him, and when he’s ready, we’ll welcome him back into the fold.”

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